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Agencies
March 25, 2020

Coronavirus outbreak: Three billion people at their homes worldwide

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A
Agencies
March 25, 2020

PARIS/NEW DELHI/LONDON/RIYADH: Almost 3 billion people worldwide will be in lockdown once India introduces its measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic at 1830 GMT on Tuesday, according to an AFP tally.

The coronavirus is affecting 196 countries and territories around the world. Total 416,774 coronavirus cases recorded while 18,582 deaths have been reported till Tuesday. While 108,294 were recovered from epidemic. As many as 2,075 persons died on the disease on Tuesday

Most of the countries concerned -- including India, Britain, France, Italy and Colombia are imposing a mandatory confinement. Others have established curfews, quarantines or strong recommendations to stay at home.

Meanwhile, India´s 1.3 billion people will go under "total lockdown" for 21 days to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Tuesday. "From 12 midnight today (1830 GMT Tuesday), the entire country will be in lockdown, total lockdown," Modi said in a national television address to the world´s second most-populous nation. "To save India, to save its every citizen, you, your family... every street, every neighbourhood is being put under lockdown."

India has lagged behindother nations in the number of Covid-19 cases, but there has been a sharp increase in recent days to 519 infections, including 10 deaths, according to the government.

A raft of lockdown measures has been brought in by individual states -- including sealing borders and restricting movement to only essential services -- to try and prevent an explosion of cases that could overwhelm the fragile public health system.

Modi warned that Indians had to observe the lockdown if they wanted to stop the spread of the deadly virus. "This is a curfew. We will have to pay economic cost of this, but to save every family member, this is the responsibility of everyone -- the biggest priority," the prime minister added.

"If these 21 days are not managed, the country and your family will go back 21 years. I am not saying this as your prime minister, I am saying it as your fellow citizen, family member." The South Asian nation has already banned incoming international flights for a week from Sunday, and grounded domestic flights and shut sea and river ports.

US reports more than 13,000 new cases of infection as numerous states urge residents to stay home. The rate of infection for the novel coronavirus accelerated in New York State and the US reached nearly 50,000 confirmed cases Tuesday as more governments around the world initiated lockdowns to limit the pandemic’s spread.

While, more than 200,000 coronavirus cases have been declared in Europe, with Italy´s 63,927 infections and Spain´s 39,673 accounting for more than half of the total, according to an AFP tally on Tuesday.

With at least 200,009 cases, including 10,732 deaths, Europe is the continent worst hit by the pandemic, ahead of Asia with 98,748 cases and 3,570 deaths. The first outbreak was in China in December.

The official figures reflect only a fraction of the total cases as many countries only test for the disease when people are hospitalised.

Meanwhile, the UK is banning people from leaving their homes apart from for a few "very limited" reasons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday, as he imposed the most stringent restrictions seen in Britain since the end of World War II.

Police will break up public gatherings and fine people flouting rules, Johnson said in a remarkable televised statement on Monday evening, dramatically ramping up the country's response to the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Shops, gyms, and places of worship will all close, and social events including weddings -- but not funerals -- will be postponed. "From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction -- you must stay at home," Johnson said. "Because the critical thing we must do is stop the disease spreading between households." "People will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes," he added, listing four reasons for which citizens can go outside; shopping for basic necessities, doing one form of exercise a day, providing medical services, or going to work if it is absolutely vital.

The restrictions essentially send the UK into lockdown, though they do not go as far some European countries -- notably Italy and Spain -- in terms of enforcement. Johnson said the measures will be reviewed after three weeks, and people will not require paperwork to go outside.

The rules come with deaths from the virus accelerating in the country. A further 54 deaths were announced in the past 24 hours, bringing the nation's total to 335. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday reported its first death from the new coronavirus as the total number of infections spiked to 767, according to the health ministry.

An Afghan resident in the western city of Medina died from the virus, the ministry said, while reporting 205 new infections -- the biggest jump in the kingdom in a single day. Saudi Arabia, which has reported the highest number of infections in the Gulf, began implementing a nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew on Monday to limit the spread of the deadly COVID-19. The Arab world´s biggest economy has also closed down cinemas, malls and restaurants, halted flights and suspended the year-round Umrah pilgrimage as it steps up efforts to contain the virus.